One Christmas a year before I left for college, my dad gave mom a bird. It was a small green parakeet in a cage. My mom who was not crazy about pets grew very fond of that bird. She named him Charlie Bird.
I have heard that some parakeets can talk, but before Charlie Bird I never heard one say more than “Hello” and that would take a lot of coaxing.
Charlie Bird could talk. Charlie Bird could talk a lot. I don’t know why the caged bird sings, but I do know the un-caged Charlie Bird talked. Charlie had a free run of the house. His cage was generally left open. He could be found one of two places, perched on a mirror preening his fine self, or perched on mom’s shoulder. Usually it was on mom’s shoulder cozying up as close to her mouth as possible while she repeated phrases for Charlie Bird to learn.
|Not mom, but it could be Charlie Bird except for the color thing|
Charlie Bird eventually learned over one-hundred different phrases. He started with,
“Hello, my name is Charlie Bird” followed by, “Pretty Bird” “Good Morning” and a few more. When my brother visited from the Navy he was greeted by Charlie Bird with “Attention, Lieutenant Hagy.”
Charlie was a great bird. If we wanted him to go into his cage, all we had to do was honk his squeaky toy which was in his cage and he would fly in and vigorously defend his turf.
Before I left for college, I told my mom it would be really cool if Charlie Bird could imitate a parrot. I suggested she teach it to squawk just like a pirate’s parrot,
“AwkAwk, piecesofeight AwkAwk, piecesofeight.”
For the next six weeks mom drilled this phrase into Charlie Bird. Apparently mom was concerned that she be very exact with her pronunciation, as if Charlie Bird wouldn’t understand what she was saying. Hell if you dropped a spoon around Charlie Bird often enough he would imitate the clang. Pronunciation was not his weak suit.
When I came home from college, mom let me know the bird learned the pirate parrot phrase I suggested. I thought this was really cool until Charlie Bird went through his repertory. When he came to his new phrase this is what I heard.
A W K, A W K, p i e c e s o f e i g h t! A W K, A W K, p i e c e s o f
e i g h t!
Not a squawk, but repeated with perfect slow and deliberate mom diction, Charlie Bird was one cool parakeet, but he made a wimpy, sissy pirate parrot!
Oh well, he was mom’s bird.
Charlie Bird lasted eight years, old for a parakeet. I was not around when he passed. I’m sure mom took it in stride; she was very stoic about death. She had seen a lot of death in her family and Charlie Bird was only a bird.
She buried him in a shoe box under a concrete bird bath.
I miss that parakeet, he was a great bird.